Railway staff from Merseyside and West Lancashire have joined forces to encourage people to speak up if they’re struggling with their mental health as part of a new Samaritans awareness campaign.

Today on World Mental Health Day (10 October 2019), Network Rail, Merseyrail and the British Transport Police worked with Samaritans to speak to passengers at Ormskirk station.

At the event, staff handed out flyers to promote the new ‘Real People, Real Stories’ campaign.

It features men who have overcome tough times in their lives by sharing their feelings and stories, in the hope it can help others who are currently suffering in silence.

A recent survey found that two in five (41%)* men in England, Scotland and Wales aged 20-59 do not seek support when they need to, because they prefer to solve their problems themselves.

This group includes men who are most at risk of suicide.

The campaign reaches out to men who may feel isolated and alone and encourages them to contact Samaritans 24/7 free on 116 123 or by visiting Samaritans.org.

Gerard Hughes, Samaritans branch director, said: “This year’s theme for World Mental Health Day is suicide prevention but preventing suicide and the support available, should be talked about every day. Suicide is preventable and is everyone’s business, so raising awareness of this important issue, will hopefully encourage people to help others in distress.”

“We know men can sometimes find it really hard to admit they are having trouble coping and reluctant to seek help, and we want to say that at Southport branch we do our best to make it easy to get in touch with Samaritans and talk to a volunteer. We are here to take calls 24/7 free on 116 123.”

This latest campaign is one of many across the rail industry to offer mental health training and support to passengers and staff.

More than 19,000 people in the rail industry have been trained by Samaritans in suicide prevention techniques.  As a result, lives are being saved every day.

There were 2270 Life-saving interventions on the country’s rail network in 2018/19 – an increase of 33% on the previous year. This means that for every life lost, nine people were saved by those around them.

Another initiative on Merseyside has been a ‘triage car’ which has been in operation since April.

Mental health first aiders are positioned at key locations on the Merseyrail network and respond to reports of people in distress who pose a risk of causing themselves harm on the railway.

Alex Hornby, performance and customer assistant at Network Rail, said: “It’s all of our responsibilities to look out for the wellbeing of members of public, friends and family. Simply having a chat can make a world of difference. We’ve worked with our industry partners to improve the support and tools available across the Merseyrail network. That includes empowering our colleagues with the right training to open conversations and lend a listening ear to people who may be struggling to cope. It also includes providing the right support at our stations.”

Andy Heath, managing director for Merseyrail, said: “We’ve worked with our industry partners to improve the support and tools available across the Merseyrail network. That includes empowering our colleagues with the right training to open conversations and lend a listening ear to people who may be struggling to cope. It also includes providing the right support at our stations. As a rail operator, ensuring the safety and wellbeing of anyone on our network is absolutely key.

“Events like today working with our partners to encourage passengers to talk more is a great example of the work we do to combat instances of those wishing to harm themselves. Talking really can save lives, and we are always keen to spread this message to staff and passengers to be on the look-out for those in need of support.”

Find out more about Real People Real Stories at: https://www.samaritans.org/support-us/campaign/real-people-real-stories/

You can also follow @samaritanscharity on Instagram, Twitter @samaritans or Facebook at www.facebook.com/samaritanscharity.

You can also visit www.networkrail.co.uk/suicide-prevention-on-the-railway